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Miami-Dade Transit Wants You to Tweet Good Ideas at It

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Most people who regularly ride Metrobus are accustomed to launching horrid invectives at Miami-Dade Transit on a daily basis. Most of the tweets tend to hit some of Metrobus' greatest hits, including questions such as "Where did my bus go?" "What's the point in taking the bus if it's going to sit in standstill traffic?" and "No, seriously, did the bus I take regularly to work cross the wrong river and accidentally get trapped in the haunted bathhouse world from Spirited Away?"

For at least a limited amount of time, Miami-Dade Transit says it will pay extraclose attention to riders' online feedback in an attempt to gain a true-to-the-ground understanding of what it's like riding Metrobus, Metromover, and Metrorail every day.

In this woebegone era of illiterate Twitter eggs and Nazi meme frogs, the phrase "please tweet your criticism at me" should be used as sparingly as humanly possible.

But in at least one case, the idea seems to be warranted: Miami-Dade Transit wants residents to send it ideas on how to improve the system by using the website Neighborland.com/MDT or the hashtag #MyMDT on Twitter.

The county will log every complaint idea it's sent until March 25, 2017, churn through the results, and hold onto any ideas it thinks could be implemented.

For once, it's refreshing to see someone using social media for good: Most Miami bus riders believe the transit system is abysmal, but the wealthy donors and consultants who influence Miami-Dade's government rarely fight hard to reform county public transit. Many see transit issues as a poor person's concern — and unless you're in the business of cramming shiny glass skyscrapers into neighborhoods where they don't belong, the county government doesn't tend to work in your favor. Crowdsourcing social media for transit tips could help change that.

So here are a few starter ideas to help jog your brain:

1. Buy more buses to increase the stop frequency.

Transit experts have heaped some fairly high praise on the city of Houston's Metro bus system after the entire system was overhauled in 2015. The new system isn't perfect — in fact, studies show the new system is still skewed too heavily toward white neighborhoods — but the main point of the overhaul was simply to put more buses onto high-traffic routes across the transit-plagued city. In many cases, the new system has worked: Buses on high-traffic routes arrive more frequently, and ridership is up.

Transit experts often spout the adage that "frequency is freedom" — that is, a bus route is useless unless the buses arrive often. A similar but more racially equal overhaul (or even a few more buses on the city's most important routes) could help Miami greatly.

2. Let city buses use their own lanes or shoulders whenever possible.

During Art Basel, the Florida Department of Transportation lets Miami-Dade buses drive along the shoulder when traffic slows to a halt on the MacArthur or Julia Tuttle Causeway. This begs an important question: Why can't buses do this year-round? Why does the city roll out a public-transit red carpet for wealthy Basel attendees but cuts the benefits off the minute the rich people leave town?

3. Finish the damn Baylink already.

The MacArthur Causeway opened in 1920. The Tuttle has stood since 1961. In that time, New York City built a new subway line under Manhattan, and the city of Boston dug up the entire town to construct underwater tunnels. Build a train rail along the causeways already, dammit.

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